FA to contact Sunderland over David Moyes ‘slap’ remarks to female reporter

Sunderland manager David Moyes has apologised to a female reporter over his conduct. Picture: PA.
Sunderland manager David Moyes has apologised to a female reporter over his conduct. Picture: PA.

Football Association chiefs are to contact Sunderland over manager David Moyes’ threat to “slap” a female reporter.

The governing body will seek clarification following an exchange between the 53-year-old Scot and BBC Newcastle and Radio Five Live reporter Vicki Sparks, which has been widely condemned since details emerged.

An FA spokesman said: “We are seeking observations from the club.”

Sunderland boss has said David Moyes "profoundly regrets" suggesting he might slap a female reporter after taking offence at one of her questions.

The 53-year-old found himself at the centre of a sexism row on Monday after an exchange with Ms Sparks was published by a national newspaper.

Speaking at his scheduled pre-match press conference ahead of the Black Cats' Premier League trip to Leicester, Moyes said: "In the heat of the moment, I made a mistake in my comments to a BBC reporter, which I profoundly regret. I was disappointed with myself for it.

Clare Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need.

Clare Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need.

"I subsequently phoned the reporter and apologised, which she accepted. It's not my character, it's not my type, as most people know and once again, I apologise for it."

Sunderland boss David Moyes says sorry to female reporter after 'slap' remark

Moyes' initial comments were widely condemned with shadow Sports Minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan calling upon the Football Association to take action via her Twitter account, a demand which was echoed by domestic abuse charity Wearside Women in Need.

Dr Allin-Khan tweeted: "David Moyes cannot get away with these sexist threats - the @FA must take action immediately."

However, asked if he was sexist, Moyes replied: "No. I think people who know me would say that and as I said in the heat of the moment, I used the wrong words."

The story broke just days after Moyes had confirmed his belief that he will still be in charge on Wearside next season whatever happens on the pitch during the remaining weeks of the current campaign.

However, some disgruntled supporters have been calling for his head and the latest story has done little to aid his cause, although he insists owner Ellis Short was already aware of the situation.

Moyes said: "The club has known about it for two weeks, I told Ellis about it two weeks ago. Sometimes these things happen in the heat of the moment."

The incident happened as Sparks interviewed the Sunderland manager at the Stadium of Light in the immediate aftermath of a 0-0 draw with Burnley on March 18 which had done little to improve the club's chances of top-flight survival.

He was asked if owner Short's presence at the game had meant he was under more pressure with the club once again fighting a battle against relegation.

Video footage published by the Daily Star shows the Scot answering, "No, none at all" before the interview drew to a close.

However, thinking he was off camera, he then added: "You were just getting a wee bit naughty at the end there, so just watch yourself. You still might get a slap even though you're a woman.

"Careful the next time you come in."

Both Moyes and Sparks were laughing during the exchange and the reporter did not make a complaint, although colleagues were unimpressed when they heard what had been said.

The BBC confirmed that Moyes and Sparks had spoken since and that the matter was resolved.

A spokesman said: "Mr Moyes has apologised to our reporter and she has accepted his apology."

Clare Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need, was stunned when she watched the video.

She said: "I think the FA have to look into it.

"It is for the FA to set a clear standard about what they think is acceptable.

"It was dreadful, absolutely appalling.

"This is a woman, in a very small minority of sports journalists, trying to go about her job and being threatened.

"It's the sort of thing you expect down the local pub, not the kind of thing you get from a professional football manager."

Moyes' comments were condemned by members of the football community, too, with former England striker and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker tweeting: "Moyes incident highlights a tendency for some managers to treat interviewers with utter disdain. Pressured job. Well rewarded. Inexcusable."

Women in Football, a network of professional women working in and around the football industry, has urged the FA to help eradicate sexism in the sport by "educating" football managers.

A WIF statement read: "We are deeply disappointed and concerned by the threatening language used by Sunderland manager David Moyes towards BBC reporter, Vicki Sparks.

"We are calling on the FA to help educate football managers against this type of behaviour."

A WIF spokesperson added: "We are pleased that David Moyes has apologised. No one should be made to feel threatened in the workplace for simply doing their job.

"We hope that the football authorities will work with us to educate football managers and those working within the game to prevent this kind of behaviour."

In a WIF survey conducted by Professor Sue Bridgewater and released in March 2016, 61 per cent of respondents had witnessed sexism in the workplace with 46 per cent - almost half - having experienced it themselves.

According to WIF, recent TUC research conducted in collaboration with the Everyday Sexism Project showed that more than half (52 per cent) of women, and nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of women surveyed aged 18-24 said they had experienced sexual harassment at work.